Yes, Virginia, there was a patch on Tuesday. And hotifxes on Wednesday. And probably more in coming days and weeks. I have it on good authority that Heroic Ulduar is a bitch-and-a-half, and needs to be trimmed down to no more than a bitch-and-a-quarter.
Dual-Spec: Smooth as Silk
So Tuesday, once I finally got in, I dual-specced Osprey. Except, I couldn’t buy Dual-Spec! What? Finally, after trying unsuccessfully in both Darnassus (the place to go unless you’re a mage: maybe 25 people in the entire city Tuesday night, compared to 25 people at every. single. trainer in Stormwind and Iron Forge1) and Stormwind, I logged out, disabled all add-ons, logged in, and promptly spent 1K gold on Dual-Specialization.
For my Holy build, I copied Matt’s recommendation, with one slight variation: I took Lightwell (for now, at least), sacrificing the third point in Test of Faith. I’ve no idea how viable Lightwell is in Ulduar, but assuming we continue to go to Naxxramas and Eye of Eternity, I know it’s plenty useful. If we do a lot of Ulduar, and if Lightwell doesn’t have as much utility there, I’ve no problem moving that point back to Test of Faith.
Then I added my dual-spec, Discipline. Again, I followed Matt’s suggested build (which I probably could have figured out on my own, but hey, I’m lazy that way!).
I must say, the process for switching, as well as for assigning talent points, is excellent. I don’t understand why having the “Test before you Learn” option isn’t the default, though (or even the sole option!). And I was very pleasantly surprised at how smoothly Dominos handled the switch between specs.
Add-Ons: Pretty Much OK
Speaking of add-ons, kudos to the add-on developers! For the most part, things worked pretty much as expected on Tuesday night, and there were a lot of updates on Wednesday and Thursday as well.2 About the only real issue I have at the moment is WoW Interface’s download site is still generating Internal Server errors, so I’m not able to update Carbonite.3 There are a few other add-ons I use that are hosted only at WoW Interface.
Since I didn’t raid Tuesday night, I didn’t encounter some of the issues people were having with Omen, Recount, and Deadly Boss Mods. When I did raid, Wednesday night, Recount and DBM, at least, seemed to be working just fine.4
Wednesday afternoon I logged in on Osprey, and headed up to Icecrown and the Argent Tournament. I will confess I wasn’t too excited about what little I knew about the Tourney, so I approached it with a bit of prejudice.5
While I was still trying to get my bearings, figure out which horse to ride, equipping my lance, and finding quest NPCs who aren’t marked6 there were all the kiddies who kept challenging me to duel. Turning on “DND” cut that number by about half. Of course, a little later, I realized there was an achievement for winning such a duel, or Tilt. Still, when you decline once, it’s extremely rude, obnoxious and a royal pain in the ass for the same person to challenge you a minute later!7
So finally I got things figured out and did the training (and did not Charge off into space as one friend did the night before: I’ve seen Ivanhoe often enough to know you start to turn as soon as you pass your opponent, or, in this case, training dummy). I also completed all the quests, including dailies, that were available.
Looking at items available from the Stormwind Quartermaster, however, I wasn’t too impressed with the Epic gear available; I guess I was expecting something that might approximate what I’ve obtained from Naxx.
I think the jury’s still out on the Argent Tournament: The quests were okay, but pretty easy, and quick. That’s not all bad. I was disappointed not to get a shot at the Black Knight, but I expect that will be coming as I get more experienced. However, it remains to be seen if the long-term playability of the Tourney holds up. I can see it become, all too easily, one more grinding time-sink.
Wednesday night, The Oroborus fielded a second 10-man group (but hardly second-string) to venture into Ulduar. Again, I approached this instance with some misgivings. I wasn’t sure how keen I was on vehicular combat, especially in a raid instance.
Suffice to say, those fears were laid to rest, and quickly. I think all 10 of us had a blast! (So to speak.) I rode “shotgun” in a Demolisher, and had a ball shooting stuff out of the sky, grabbing Pyrite, and flaming bad guys. I did have a problem not seeing the Pyrite capacity bar, which my fellow Demolisher Passenger was able to see. I suspect add-on interference, possibly from Dominos or Pitbull4, but I’ve no idea how to remedy that.
With almost no prior knowledge, we did a pretty good job of clearing trash, taking down towers, and were able to destroy the Flame Leviathan on our second attempt.
Then we decided to try Ignis the Furnace Master. At least, I think that’s who it was; we actually never got to the boss. Trash was…epic. Unquestionably, Blizzard ramped up the difficulty level, compared to Naxxramas. It took us four attempts to get the first two guys down, and even that was almost a wipe: Our OT was the only one left standing at the end. There were a couple more guys after that who were pretty easy, then some flame elementals.
Nasty, nasty guys, those, with a flame whirlwind that does a knockback and a stun and a LOT of damage to clothies. After four or five wipes on those, a few folks had to log, so we called it. Wondering if maybe some CC is in order here; supposedly, Blizz was going to restore the need for CC in Ulduar.
I can’t wait to go back tonight; however, I am NOT looking forward to Heroic mode: We can’t even get Malygos down, so I’m pretty apprehensive about anything past the first boss in Ulduar. I think a lot more Heroic Naxx raids need to take place, to be sure everyone’s gear is as good as it can get.
The new fishing dailies are different, although 20+ casts at 17 seconds each (seems I almost always get a hit at the 14-second mark) seems a bit long.
So far, Argent Tournament is fun, but will it remain so for the long term? I’m still disappointed we didn’t get a major quest hub and at least one more 5-man instance. Others aren’t; to each his (or her) own.
Ulduar is everything it was promised to be, especially “more difficult than initial Wrath instances.” No kidding. I think we will see some tweaking there, not only for heroic, but probably for 10-man as well. After all, if the expectation was that normal mode was a natural progression from Naxx-10, then folks who don’t have iLevel 213+ gear are going to suffer. A lot.
Overall, I’ll give Patch 3.1 a solid “B” or even a B+. But I’m interested to know your reactions to the areas I’ve discussed. Props, or pans? Everything you wanted, or is something missing. Share with us in the comments!
- I imagine The Exodar was probably as empty as Darnassus. ↩
- I’m not going to get into the whole WoWMatrix vs. Curse and WoW Interface discussion; it’s more than adequately covered at NoStockUI. Suffice to say, I’m satisfied with Curse/WI’s arguments, and favorably impressed with Curse’s new and improved client. ↩
- While writing this, @Kadomi and @stoppableforceboth gave me a link to download it, and it worked like a charm. Thanks, both of you! ↩
- There was also a later update to Recount late Wednesday or early Thursday. ↩
- For one thing, I’d like to see mounted combat implemented throughout Northrend and Outland, on our normal mounts, both riding and flying, rather than restricted as it is to the Tourney, instances, and a few quests. ↩
- Not a huge deal, but unexpected ↩
- And yes, I did get the achievement by defeating a guildie, reciprocating with her as well as another guildie. As always, I suck at PvP. ↩